On Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission

On December 5th of last year, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments for the case in which a Colorado baker refused to make a custom wedding cake for a same-sex couple. A few days ago in California, a county judge ruled that a baker there could legally do the same. Of course, this decision could be overruled by the high court. Most see these cases as being about free expression v. anti-discrimination, two important American values. The baker and company is the petitioner in the Supreme Court case and the Colorado Civil Rights Commission is the respondent. The Supreme Court arguments first centered around whether creating a custom cake would be compelled speech. Next the argument came to the distinction of whether the baker objected to making the cake for the same-sex couple or simply objected to the message the cake would “speak.” In order to avoid any sort of slippery slope situation, the Court would have to rule narrowly on this case. Extreme examples of ruling too broadly either way are a) artists are compelled to create art they disagree with–even state propaganda and b) business owners are allowed to deny services to any class of people they choose. Reading the arguments’ transcript shows a broad ruling is unlikely. The decision will be whether bakers will be compelled to create a cake for an event they disagree with, or same-sex couples will be denied a cake from the shop of their choice. Which is worse: the denial of a service to a class of people or the compulsion of a smaller class of people to do something against their wishes? I’ll leave this one for the justices to decide.



Another Half-Assed Facebook Debate

This was the response when I said that Colorado’s gun laws could be used as a template for Federal legislation. Hardly a radical concept, and one that doesn’t even affect Coloradans because, like I said, it’s already the law where we live.

This guy isn’t just threatening me. He is threatening to defy the will of the majority of voters in the event that I am elected. This is what Ken Buck and Donald Trump have created – an environment in which you can threaten and bully others; an environment in which a “Second Amendment Solution” is considered acceptable; in which any concern for commonsense gun safety is considered a threat to the Constitution.

This isn’t a campaign against guns. This is a campaign against bullies who make threats against others. This is a campaign against people who think that guns should mean more than ballots.

I apologize for the language in these images, but people need to see the extremists for what they are – radical people who use the threat of violence to get their way.

Thanks, Trump. Thanks, Ken.
Please help our campaign. http://bobforcolorado.org/donate.html

Isaac Furtney It’s a political threat, Bob. And I hate to say it, but gun control laws don’t seem to make us any safer.

Like · Reply · 1 · 17 hrs

Steve Harvey
Steve Harvey Actually, statistically controlled research (rather than the anecdotal, cherry-picked, and outright doctored research informing your narrative) indicates otherwise.

Here’s a comprehensive argument, with some links to relevant sources at the end:See More

There are two competing narratives at work in the gun control debate (narratives that, in general form, define many of the debates dividing the political “left” and the political “right”). One narrative views the world as a dangerous place, with bad people who do bad things, and that therefore an ar…
Like · Reply · 4 · 16 hrs · Edited

Richard Carpenter
Richard Carpenter What an excellent essay, Steve…

Like · Reply · 2 · 14 hrs

Steve Harvey
Like · Reply · 1 · 14 hrs

Bob Seay
Bob Seay Steve Harvey Wish I had written that. Thanks for sharing it.

Like · Reply · 2 · 13 hrs

Steve Harvey
Steve Harvey My pleasure, Bob.

Like · Reply · 1 · 13 hrs

Isaac Furtney
Isaac Furtney No. I’m sure it’s a lovely essay, but the root cause of most gun violence is crime. When we make an economy that works for everyone instead of against most people, then the violence will dissipate. There are countries with nearly as many firearms per capita as the US with minimal gun violence.

Like · Reply · 1 · 12 hrs

Steve Harvey
Steve Harvey Isaac Furtney, that’s a narrative. I offered a comprehensive analysis, with citations, which you ignored, because you prefer clinging to your emotionally self-gratifying (but completely bogus) narrative to becoming better informed and developing a more nuanced understanding of this complex and consequential issue. There’s a word for that, derivative of another word for disregarding relevant information.

There are, in fact, no countries with anywhere near our private firearm ownership rate, per capita or in absolute numbers. We have almost half of all privately owned firearms in the world, at a per capita rate (nearly one firearm for every single man, woman and child residing in this country) nearly twice that of the next highest. You’re in extreme factual error right off the bat, because you’re content to rely on fabricated information in service to an irrational and deadly set of demonstrable absurdities.

Also, we have an intentional homicide rate that is about seven times the developed nation average, higher than all but one other OECD country (Mexico, which “benefits” from a constant flood of are arms across their border and intothe hands of their drug cartels), from two to twentyfive times higher than all but two others (Mexico and Estonia, the latter having a lower homicide rate than ours, but, alone among the remaining OECD countries, more than half our rate).

There are indeed many factors involved, but your use of “crime” as some catch all that is somehow unrelated to firearms availability is analytically indefensible. There are two basic reasons for that: 1) Guns are an amplifier of the deadliness of acts of aggression or violence that otherwise would not have been deadly, so their superabundance in our country turns more crimes deadly more of the time; and 2) our crime rate is a function of the same cultural pathology that expresses itself in the form of our gun cult, a hyper-individualistic callousness that both does too little to invest in programs that reduce poverty and crime and inculcates the bizarre belief that being constantly prepared to kill others is necessary and virtuous.

If you actually want to know what you’re talking about, rather than spouting empty, shallow and erroneous ideological platitudes, read up a bit more on the actual empirical evidence and peer-review research on the subject. (My essay provides an excellent primer on the issue, for those who actually want to be well informed.) That’s what responsible citizenship requires of us, especially when one feels compelled to spout falsehoods assertively on a literally life-and-death matter, death for over 30,000 Americans every year.

Like · Reply · 3 · 11 hrs · Edited

Isaac Furtney
Isaac Furtney I notice you ignored my economic inequailty argument altogether and instead just complained that I didn’t use citations. Look at Mexico and El Salvador where, sure many of their guns come from the US, but the real problem is gang and drug violence just like here. Neoliberals like you do all your academic research and change nothing. I hope that’s enough to help YOU sleep at night. So try to pull your head from the clouds to understand what is really going on. Your view of what is happening is too simplistic and not holistic enough. Of course, you cannot have gun violence without guns and “gun culture,” but it still all comes back to economics because firearm manufacture and sales is a $16.6 bn industry. The democrats little sit-in was cute, but they knew they wouldn’t accomplish anything when 50+ republican members of congress have taken money from gun groups like the NRA. …..”our crime rate is a function of the same cultural pathology that expresses itself in the form of our gun cult, a [hyper-individualistic callousness] that both does too little to invest in programs that [reduce poverty and crime] and inculcates the bizarre belief that being constantly prepared to kill others is necessary and virtuous. Your use of “hyper-individualistic callousness” sounds akin to Clinton’s use of “super-predators.” It’s a bullshit excuse and convenient way of avoiding the facts–that you–in similar circumstances to many of our urban people of color face everyday–police terrorism and lack of economic opportunity combined with systemic racism, oppression, and injustice–are somehow morally superior. Fuck you, Steve. No you’re not. As for “reduc[ing] poverty and crime” by “investing in programs,” our economic system, is, by and large, corrupt and inherently inequitable. No amount of well-meaning political “programs” regardless of how much we, the taxpayers–not the one percent, mind you–“invest” in them will make any real difference in the lives of millions of wage slaves, prisoner slaves, and those forced to take government assistance while their employer gets tax breaks. You speak much more ignorantly, despite your eloquent diction and research, you don’t KNOW shit. Mic drop.

Steve Harvey
Steve Harvey Isaac Furtney, first, I didn’t “ignore” your economic inequality argument. It is encompassed by my reference to the callous hyper-individualism that is at the root of a matrix of interrelated problems which include both economic inequality and gun violence.

Second, if we’re going to refer to “ignoring arguments,” let’s point out that you ignored mine in its entirety, and simply repeated your own narrative, without responding to any other information other than that which you currently hold, regardless of its demonstrable inaccuracy.

Third, I specifically pointed out that the anecdotal, cherry-picking mode of argumentation that gun idolators rely on (“look at Mexico and El Salvador”) can be used to argue any position, no matter how absurd, and therefore is the prefered tactic for those arguing absurdities. To illustrate, if I wanted to argue that using seat belts increases your probability of dying in a car accident, all I need to do is gather together all of the anomalous cases in which that occurred, and present them as evidence in support of my claim. But someone presenting actual statistical evidence (as I did, regarding cross-national analyses of gun ownership rates and homicide rates, and regarding relative probabilities of being killed, by a gun or by any other method, between those with guns or with guns in the home and those without, as well as specific studies examining the actual statistical effects of gun regulations) is effectively refuting that anecdotal farce.

Fourth, you insist, arbitrarily and erroneously, that, despite the fact that the evidence clearly and definitively refutes your narrative, that those who disagree with you (such as myself, a former sociologist, lawyer public policy analyst, urban outreach worker, and teacher) “have their head in the clouds” (because how else do you dismiss demonstrable realities that are ideologically inconvenient to you?), while you, simply by posturing and pretending, are in possession of the more “holistic” truth. Bullsit. You’re in possession of an ideological narrative built on factual falsehoods and intentional irrationality, all in service to sacrificing other people’s lives and other people’s children on the alter of your deadly fetish.

Fifth, there is indeed a matrix of interrelated problems, so drugs and crimes are relevant. But so are guns. And so is your dogmatic refusal to include guns in the mix of factors we consider as we forge rational and responsible laws and policies by which to co-exist in this country of ours. Guns are a factor, the relevance of which I explain in precise and compelling detail in the essay you couldn’t be bothered to read (because the one thing you don’t want is knowledge or comprehension, both of which would inconvenience you ideologically).

Sixth, I haven’t claimed and never claim that guns are the only factor, that there aren’t other issues, even more fundamental issues, for us to address. You use the word “simplistic” as if it magically becomes true just by virtue of your using it. But there’s nothing simplistic about looking at the systemic whole (which IS what holism actually is), and all of the factors that comprise it, and recognizing the various roles that each of those factors play. That’s an authentic analysis, a real understanding. And the fact is that instrumentality is a very important systemic factor. It requires a highly motivated, self-induced ignorance not to understand that.

I sleep perfectly well at night, because I’m honest, well-informed, and highly rational social observor who responsibly and painstakingly researches and analyzes all available data to develop the most comprehensive, precise, and accurate understanding of the issues and dynamics involved as possible. Maybe you should joining that club; responsible citizenship requires it of us.

Isaac Furtney
Isaac Furtney Right on. Keep on intellectually masturbating, we’re all very impressed. You ignore the most important factor–the money. I’ll read your little essay when I get a chance. Thanks for the debate.

Get Money out of Politics

U.S. flag

U.S. flag (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hey all, just made a We the People petition on whitehouse.gov urging the president to introduce a bill prohibiting PACs from participating in federal elections.


Go sign it now! It needs 150 signatures to be searchable.

Al Qaeda’s Publicity Stunt

Road Closed

Warren Weinstein, a seventy year-old international developement company director and former Peace Corps director was abducted by Al-Qaeda last August. During a desperate video plea released on the internet on May 7th, Weinstein urges President Obama to concede to Al-Qaeda’s demands to stop airstrikes in the many countries in which Al-Qaeda roots have seeped into as well as to free Taliban and Al-Qaeda prisoners in U.S. facilities. An end to the airstrikes may have mutual benefits, if only we can get those soldiers to let go of those horrible joy/deathsticks. Weinstein told Obama, “My life is in your hands,” and verbally ached sorrows about wishing to see his children. He reported that he was being treated fairly and being given his medicines.

This man never had a chance, regardless of whether or not it would be worth giving in to Al-Qaeda to save him, bringing him home safe would never happen. Once Weinstein was taken, and the video relayed through the internet servers, the damage was done. The people were frightened or they weren’t, reminded of our ‘dis-admirers’ in the East, and perhaps pitied the old man for befalling such a fate. Weinstein was abducted from his home in Pakistan, and frankly should have realized the risked of such a thing happening. He’s over seventy years old, which significantly reduces the probability that he’ll cure cancer. He’s not valuable or famous enough for there to be a choice in the situation. It is a sad thing for him and his family, but when one slides the blue glasses of emotion off of their nose, there can scarcely be another option. Sending in a rescue team could result in the death of even more U.S. citizens is exactly the kind of story the President doesn’t want printed with the election coming up. As Al-Qaeda, the U.S. government, and I’m sure others knew all along this diminishing path, Weinstein’s kidnapping and death will result in a trivial publicity stunt by a few angry men.

The Drink for Thought

President Barack Obama enjoys a beer with Dako...

cervesa es deliciosa

Which presidential candidate would you rather have a beer with? Romney’s a Mormon. Santorum only sips wine at Communion. Gingrich prefers to guzzle the tears of dissappointed wives. Obama has Honey Ale brewed right in the White House.

This November grab a brew with Barry.

The Pennsylvania

Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania

Image via Wikipedia

Shippensburg University, PA-The content of college campus vending machines was far from newsworthy until sensationalist journalists got their noses into Cumberland Valley and got wind of Plan-B Emergency Contraceptive’s presence in Etter Health Center. Twenty five bones gets you the medication which is sitting between the pregnancy tests, the condoms, and of course the nasal decongestants. Nine-tenths of the time, it works every time, when used correctly within the first 24 hours.

The students themselves overwhelmingly asked to have the pill in the health center in a survey a few years back. While the FDA is poked and shoved into making a stink about it by pro-lifers, the vending machine is not accessible to the general public, only students who all meet the 17+ age requirement to buy the contraceptive legally. Now the Obama administration’s mandate requiring employers to provide access to birth control for their women employees has been deflected by cries of First Amendment violation by Catholics, republicans, and others. The compromise is that these institutions don’t have to provide it themselves, but their insurance companies do. Really? The insurance companies are going to be the ones doing the right thing here? Everyone knows insurance companies have absolutely no morals, just duct tape wrapped wallets.

The real issue, however, has nothing to do with religious beliefs, money, or women’s health. Our society needs to find a way to make youth and others more responsible so that they do not need emergency contraceptives. I heard a woman call in to Norman Goldman’s radio show on 760AM Colorado’s Progressive Talk last night who mentioned that an embryo is the last stage of developement which can be frozen. Goldman brushed that off, saying that Walt Disney was frozen too and that her reasoning is flawed. He’s right it shouldn’t matter who can be frozen and who cannot, although everyone could. In American society the age of adulthood and all of the assumed responsibility and independence that comes with it varies from family to family. The government recognizes different driving, gun ownership, and drinking ages, however the voting age of 18 is a constant. The assumption is that is the age of maturity according to the law. Is it arbitrary, or is there evidence that a certain stage of brain developement is generally completed then? I am not a doctor (I was an EMT-Basic), but I don’t feel qualified to determine that by myself. One thing that is clear is that everyone is different and developes at different rates and in different ways.

Back to the issue at hand, how can we ensure our citizenry and youth are responsible enough not to need emergency birth control? And does providing it make it harder to do so, due to the fact that they do have options if they have unprotected sex purposefully or unintentionally? I would like to see the need for medicines like Plan-B to be reduced, but I know society needs to work on having more normal contraceptive available to youth. While there is no age restriction for purchasing contraceptive such as condoms, there is one for Plan-B. Why?

As a society, our approach to eliminating unplanned pregnancies should be two-pronged; first we should do away with the age restriction for age restrictions like Plan-B and make free condoms, diaphragms, and preventive birth control pills more available to youth (while of course ensuring that parents are informed that their children are using these). Second we should continue to encourage abstinence–find a way to make it sexier, as well as keep our kids aware of the consequences such as STI’s and unplanned pregnancy via sex-ed classes and advertisements similar to the anti-drug ads. I see where the Catholics and republicans are coming from, but we cannot afford make contraceptives harder to acquire for our youth and even ourselves.

Who Stole the Cookies from the Cookie Jar?

Call to Action! National Defense Authorization...Let’s find out and burn their eyes out with molten lead. Don’t mess with our cookies. I joke, I joke; I kid,I kid, if I offend please forgive. Hello friends. Come in. Much has happened since we last spoke. Por ejemplo the beginning of the end of tyranny. The people of the World are writhing out of the cold clutches of oppression. It started in the strangest and most obvious place, the Middle East. This is a land older than the sands that sweep it. ideas have changed as often as a hog bathes. But the global battle for equity of resource and necessity distribution, and for freedom is still wet behind the ears. It’s a tall order for an infant, to win Earth’s class war. So let us nurture our creation, with love and discipline, in hopes that it will grow wiser, happier, and more serene than we did. America is an important battleground. The Occupy movement has just volunteered to move to the front line.

In the U.S. House of Representatives, the Stop Online Piracy Act or SOPA has been proposed to reduce internet pornography, piracy, and spam advertisement which all sounds pretty good (the Senate’s sister bill is PIPA or Protect Intellectual Property Act). But when one reads the fine print, they realize that these bills can be used to censor the internet and eliminate speech and communicaes that the government finds displeasing. As a writer, I understand that artists don’t want their ideas stolen and bread taken from their basket, however it isn’t the writers that are frustrated, it is the large entertainment businesses who are taking the art out of film-making and song-writing, but that’s for another paper. The American Government saw the Arab Spring and the way the youths of those countries used Facebook and Twitter to organize a revolution. It scared them. They want us all to just keep shopping and smile and ignore how the government has become an extension of big business and is trying to control us in any way it can.

C@%sorsh is a link to a Powerpoint I made to illustrate the problems with censorship. *WARNING* the images and words are meant to be somewhat offensive, but don’t worry I did this for a Public Speaking class so there’s nothing too bad. Be sure to read the notes at the bottom as they have all the information, which came from the American Library Association, Wikipedia, and the Gale Opposing Viewpoints  websites. I urge everyone to read about SOPA and PIPA, and while you’re at it how about the National Defense Authorization Act and Amendment 1068 which would give the federal government the right to capture and detain American citizens indefinitely without a trial and torture them.

This has got to stop. The NDAA indefinite containment without due process, bill, has already passed the Senate and is awaiting President Obama’s signature. Please make your voice heard. Get informed about these laws and tell your senators, congressmen and women, and president that this is unacceptable and the American People fought to break the bonds of despotism and abusive government and we will not be put in the corner again. Below is a link to a video about PIPA that I found on the America Blog site. Penses por tu mismo.

<iframe src=”http://player.vimeo.com/video/31100268?byline=0&amp;portrait=0” width=”400″ height=”225″ frameborder=”0″ webkitAllowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen>

http://vimeo.com/31100268″>PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks The Internet from http://vimeo.com/fightforthefuture”>Fight for the Future</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>